Tarell McCraney Wins Kendeda Playwriting Competition

News   Tarell McCraney Wins Kendeda Playwriting Competition A woman athlete comes of age in the play selected as the winner of the fourth annual Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, the troupe announced Feb. 13.

In the Red and Brown Water, by emerging playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, will see its world premiere on the Hertz Stage in Atlanta during the 2007-08 Alliance season.

McCraney, a graduate student at the Yale School of Drama, is already receiving acclaim from theatre critics for workshops of his productions.

The Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition (GPC) is a one-of-a-kind national competition that exposes student playwrights to the world of professional theatre through experiences working with a nationally recognized theatre. The grand prize for the winner of the competition is a professional production of his/her work at the Alliance Theatre.

In 2005 the Kendeda GPC entered into a partnership with the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. This year In the Red and Brown Water, as the GPC winner, will be workshopped at the O'Neill before going on to production at the Alliance.

McCraney's play "follows the life of a young woman who must choose between pursuing her athletic talent and caring for her ailing mother," according to Alliance notes. "The plot takes a twist when she finds and falls in love with a soldier who is unavailable to return her affections. The play is based on writings of the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca as well as myths from the West African religion Yoruba. The play is both passionate as well as intoxicating." The other finalists in the competition are Bekah Brunstetter, the New School for Drama in New York; Josh Tobiessen, University of California, San Diego; Merri Biechler, Ohio University; and Ross Maxwell, New York University.

This year's winning work was evaluated by an in-house panel of readers at the Alliance and a national panel of three theatre artists. In conjunction with Alliance Theatre leadership, the national judges selected the winner. The 2007 national judges panel included José Rivera, playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter for "Motorcycle Diaries"; Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater in New York; and Philip Himberg, Sundance Theatre Laboratory.

The Alliance Theatre inaugurated its Graduate Playwriting Competition in 2003, with the first winning play, Day of the Kings by Daphne Greaves, produced in the 2004-05 season. The winning play of the second annual competition was . . .," said Said by Ken Lin and was produced in the 2005-06 season. Also during the 2004-05 season, the Competition became the Kendeda Graduate Playwright Competition after a generous grant from the Kendeda Foundation secured the competition's future at the Alliance.

Last year's winning play was False Creeds by Darren Canady, currently being produced by the Alliance.

More than 30 graduate schools around the nation were invited to participate in this year's competition by encouraging their student playwrights to submit work for evaluation. The competition was conceptualized by Alliance Theatre artistic director Susan V. Booth and serves to provide both Atlanta and the national theatre scene with original and groundbreaking work.

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Now in its 38th season, Atlanta's nationally acclaimed Alliance Theatre "is the leading professional resident theatre of the Southeast, creating the powerful experience of shared theatre for diverse people on two stages for youth and adult audiences." Susan V. Booth is artistic director, and Thomas Pechar is managing director.

The Alliance launched two Tony Award-winning hits to Broadway: The Color Purple and Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida.

And, in a rare event for a regional theatre, it originated the national tour of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

For more information, visit www.alliancetheatre.org.